From the Braidwood and Villages Business Chamber: Building business resilience during COVID-19

SMILING IN ADVERSITY: Alison and Tim Kennedy of the Braidwood Smokehouse.

SMILING IN ADVERSITY: Alison and Tim Kennedy of the Braidwood Smokehouse.

Businesses in the Braidwood region have shown a truly inspiring level of resilience. The start of the business income season began with a sales-crippling Telstra outage, followed by drought, floods, and fire. Just when it looked like a little stability was creeping back into our world, along came COVID-19.

So what does that mean for businesses? I'm not going to sugar coat it - the ride is about to get a whole lot bumpier for a lot of businesses, and the impact will be devastating for the region if we can't pull through it.

We are being inundated with advice about packages available (or not!). After seeing how little real assistance was actually there after the massive impact of the fires, I can understand why everyone is a little sceptical, but it is important we remain focussed and keep trying.

While we are waiting for the initial frenzy to settle so that we can work our way through the maze of information out there, here are 5 things you can do this week to regain some control:

1) Apply for the government grant for fire impacted businesses, available through services NSW. https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-small-business-bushfire-support-grant. Eligibility criteria is generous, and there are no complicated forms to complete. It will take you all of 10 minutes to complete and they promise the money in your bank within 10 days.

2) Talk to your bank and get your business loan deferred for six months. It is essential you look at your business right now, and work out how you are going to get through this difficult time. Talk to your accountant, or if cash flow is tight, some organisations offer these services for free. Talk to Business Connect for a referral.

3) Register your details with the Services NSW Business Concierge, and arrange for someone to direct you to any other grants or economic relief packages that are applicable to your business as they become available.

4) If you can, go online. Regional development associations and groups are going to push hard to promote regional online buying throughout the crisis. This is also a good time to develop your social media campaigns. The Chamber will offer a series of webinars over the next few months offering assistance with developing your campaign and Google basics if you aren't sure how to go about it.

5) Connect. It is important to know that you aren't alone. During these difficult and isolating times, the Chamber will set up a regular online "coffee meeting", where business owners are invited to grab a cup of coffee and join in the discussion on how we can build resilience within Braidwood and develop strategies to survive the crisis. Details will be published shortly on the Braidwood Business Chamber and People of Braidwood & Villages Facebook Pages, and promoted through the BraidwoodNSW.BAVBC Instagram page.

Until the crisis is over, the Chamber is offering 12 months free membership to all businesses in the region, so everyone is welcome.